Annual meetings need to become more relevant and in sync with a changing governance and business environment in order to survive, according to a new report by The Conference Board. Investors and executives pointed out that institutional investors have a major edge over other shareholders because they have preferential access to board members almost any time they wish. Because of that, most of what takes place at annual meetings is often redundant. Some critics question the value of open voting because institutional investors have already decided most of the issues with company executives beforehand.
Among the major suggestions for change presented by participants at the second corporate/investor summit initiated by The Conference Board’s global governance research center were to create a series of alternate forums where investors and corporate management can examine critical, long-term issues; allow shareholders to direct questions to the board in an orderly process by having questions submitted prior to the meeting and establishing virtual online annual general meetings with full voting rights for shareholders.